Provocative Pleasure: An exhibition set to intrigue

Provocative Pleasure: An exhibition set to intrigue

From embellishment and exaggeration to identity, gender and desire: a new exhibition opening at RMIT Gallery presents the work of a diverse group of artists who used the body as a personal, provocative and at times political canvas.

Pleasure, opening at RMIT Gallery on Friday 29 November, will feature the work of 48 artists, spanning from the flamboyant 1980s to contemporary times.

Curated by Professor Julian Goddard, RMIT Gallery Acting Director, Senior Exhibitions Coordinator Helen Rayment and RMIT Gallery Senior Coordinator Evelyn Tsitas, the exhibition aims to challenge our ideas about the nature of pleasure, and how our bodies give, receive and rejoice in pleasure. 

Gunshy. Image: The Furies RMIT Gallery

Many of the works in Pleasure are highly erotic or graphic in their content, depicting sexuality through an alternative lens to mainstream representations.

While people tend not to talk openly about their desires and fetishes, the exhibition’s ‘Pleasure Plus’ room celebrates nuanced perspectives usually silenced in the world of online pornographic culture.

Goddard said that Pleasure foregrounded the work of artists motivated to challenge the banalities of late capitalist society by constructing interventions that lift our spirits, produce wonder and make us laugh.

“Prepare to be surprised, delighted, and depending on your sensibilities, a little shocked. Pleasure seeks to embrace frivolity, contradictions and minor perversities,” he said.

Tsitas said Pleasure was developed in response to the enormous public interest in the transformed human form revealed in RMIT Gallery’s popular 2018 exhibition, My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid.

“We realised audiences had a strong desire to see intriguing artwork that reflected their own fantasies and anxieties about what it means to be human,” Tsitas said.

Pleasure celebrates artwork that explores diverse sexualities and the disruption of gender and bodily boundaries.”

Artist Kate Durham’s large sculptural costume for performer Moira Finucane was a reminder of the pleasure in dressing up, and the momentary pleasure to be gained transforming our identity through what we wear.  

“l think we should pursue pleasure more than we do, we should wear it, eat it, ride it, bathe in it, sip on it, gorge on it, experience it, even to excess,” she said.

“Pleasure is delightful, pleasure is essential, but ephemeral. Seek it, take it, and give it when you can.”

Pleasure will be launched on Thursday 28 November, with performances from Ciara Murphy in a 80-kilo nail suit, psycho-sexual performance group GunShy in faux fur and latex outfits from the exhibition, and RMIT hip hop dance group The Funkadelics.


Story: Evelyn Tsitas

27 November 2019


27 November 2019


  • Arts and culture
  • PEG

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